This guest blog post is written by Gene Marks, a small business expert, columnist, author, keynote speaker and CPA. Utilizing over 20 years experience as a small business speaker, Gene helps small business owners, executives and managers understand the political, economic and technological trends that will affect their companies so they can make profitable decisions.
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume your business is somewhat slower during the summer. You might thing that increased marketing efforts are your best bet, but it’s important to remember that making money = increasing profits, which you can do in three key ways: grow sales, cut expenses or increase productivity to do more with the same dollar. Read on for six things you can do to keep your business thriving in the slower summer months.
A friend of mine proudly told me he’s built up over 25 days of vacation with his company over the past couple years. I’m not sure why he’s proud of that. For starters, vacation is compensation and it should be used as such. Secondly, every accountant (including me) knows that requiring employees to take vacation is a basic internal control that helps uncover potential fraudulent activity in their absence.
But, most importantly, vacation is…well…awesome. It’s therapeutic. Think about how you feel when you’re away from work. You sleep, you relax, you reconnect with your family and friends. You get the opportunity to view your job, company and professional life from a refreshed perspective. You then (hopefully) return to work feeling ready to jump back in. Vacations may take employees away from the office for a short period. But then it makes them more productive when they return.
Clean up your business.
There’s a reason why people “spring clean.” Once a year, you clear out everything you don’t need to make room for new stuff. It’s a ritual that not only makes our homes nicer and more comfortable but also clears our minds. The same goes in business – when things are a little slower, take the opportunity to clean things up.
Archive your old paper files offsite. Hire a cleaning service to do a top-to-bottom scrubbing of your offices, reception area and factory. Bring in an outside technology firm to clean up your devices, servers, printers and wiring. Take the opportunity to install new lighting, racking, shelving or insulation. By the end of the summer you should aim to have a facility that’s more cost efficient, where your employees are happier and more productive, and that prospective workers find more attractive than your competitors.
Hold an event.
There are many ways nowadays to hold events virtually – webinars, Facebook Live, and Tweetchats to name just a few. But I’m not talking about any of these when I say “hold an event.” I mean an in-person, face-to-face event where people shake hands, have a beer, and connect outside the office. Summer is a great time for this – host a BBQ, a picnic, a happy hour, a speaker at a hotel. It’s a chance to say thank you, reconnect, build relationships and potentially create opportunities with your employees, customers and other members of your business community.
Start planning for the holidays.
If you’re a merchant and you’re reading this, then the holiday season likely accounts for something near half of your profits. The smartest business owners I know who rely on the holidays for their livelihood start planning for them way, way in advance to maximize their peak season sales.
Many tasks and strategies that will help you make the most of your peak season should be put into motion many months ahead of the season itself. Budgeting and forecasting cash flow. Creating marketing campaigns and promotions. Investing in technology. Re-visiting and re-designing your website. Looking at past holiday sales and campaigns that succeeded or failed. Making hiring plans. Opening up space for more inventory. Negotiating discounts and delivery times with vendors. Nailing down shipping costs. Start planning for the holidays now to set yourself up for success.
Meet with your accountant (and maybe invite him to that BBQ event).
We all know that taxes can end up eating anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of your business income. Compounding this issue is 2017’s tax reform legislation, which takes effect now. For an expense that significant, isn’t it worthwhile to explore different ways to minimize it?
Maybe you should invest in more capital equipment. Hire your kids. Maximize your deductions. Take advantage of employment credits. Maybe even change the legal entity of your company to something more tax advantageous. Summer is the perfect time to meet with your accountant and figure out any tax moves you should be making now to avoid any fire drills (or lost opportunities) at the end of the year.
Finally, just send everyone away.
Don’t you wish you could send everyone away and have some space? Now you’ve got the chance!
If your summers are slower, use them as an opportunity for training. Make your employees better by sending them to conferences, seminars or educational events in your industry. Create a schedule that accommodates everyone and doesn’t cripple your business. Yes, it’s a cost so consider who would benefit the most. Then consider the benefits: a better trained and more motivated worker who’s appreciative of your investment in their education (and happy to go away for a few days on your dime). At the very least, you’ll get a little peace and quiet!
The summer can be a slower time for many businesses. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make money. Make the moves I suggested above and you’ll not only grow your sales, but you’ll also find yourself getting more bank for your dollar.